Summer practices are coming to a close and the Malibu High School varsity football team is gearing up for its upcoming season. The first game is on Saturday against Fillmore, the team that beat out Malibu for the Frontier League championship last year.
The Sharks lost 14 seniors from last year’s squad that finished second in the league. But with defending champion Fillmore not in the league this season, a first-ever Malibu High Frontier League title is a reasonable, but challenging goal.
“League is going to be tough,” said head coach Ray Humphrey, who is entering his sixth year as the head of Sharks football. “Malibu is now one of the bigger schools in the league, and I think we have a great shot at winning.”
In preparation for this season, Humphreys has stressed conditioning and fitness during the team’s extensive summer practices.
“Last year, I made the mistake of not doing enough conditioning over the summer, and as a result, we lost a couple of games in the fourth quarter that I thought we should have won,” Humphrey said.
Another change from last year’s team has been the attitude. Humphrey, along with many of his players, say this year’s team has a motivated psyche during practices and weight training.
“Last year, we had a little bit of an attitude problem,” Humphrey said. “We had some guys that didn’t really want to be there, but this year you can see that the guys really want to play, they want to practice, and they want to be in the weight room.”
Senior Jeffrey Bloeser, a slot receiver and cornerback, added, “This year’s team is different because we have a stronger chemistry as a group, an entirely new defense, alongside a very quick and exciting offense.”
Leading the new offense is first year quarterback Chris Konkol, who was previously a receiver. While Konkol is entering his first year at the helm of the Shark’s offense, Humphrey is confident in his abilities.
“Chris had a great off-season,’ Humphrey said. “We brought in a private trainer who worked with him and he has really shown that he grasps the offense and can make plays.”
The offense will also have new players in other positions, as last year’s leading passer, rusher and receiver all graduated. Senior Matt Mason, who split carried with Jackson Wirht last year, will be the Shark’s feature back this season, while the receiving corps will consist of a number of players who Humphrey hopes will be able to serve the offense’s new goal of spreading out defenses. This new offense will not feature a tight end, but will instead consist of more Malibu High receivers using their speed to wear defenses out.
Two receivers that Humphrey said have looked good in practice are sophomores Brennan Cassone and Will Rosenthal, two of the youngest players on the varsity squad.
“It is actually really fun being one of the youngest players on the team because it is cool to be with the older guys and learn from them,” Cassone said.
Malibu’s offense is not the only thing that will have a new look to it this year as Humphrey has also undertaken the task of changing the Shark’s defensive scheme as well. The Sharks will boast a 3-5 look on defense this year as opposed to the 4-4 scheme that opposing offenses saw last year. This defense will give the Sharks more flexibility in what they want to do to opposing teams.
“This defense will let us bring more guys in creative blitz packages and really create havoc in teams’ backfields,” Humphreys said.
With a new-look offense and defense, a motivated attitude and a league that does not have a clear frontrunner, the 2010 Sharks will look to capture the Frontier League championship that has eluded them throughout their existence.
“Our goal from day one is to win league and bring that first League Title to Malibu,” Humphrey said.
The game on Saturday will take place at 1 p.m. at Malibu High School. The junior varsity game will take place at 10 a.m.